AR­CADE WATCH

Keep­ing an eye on the coin-op gam­ing scene

EDGE - - KNOWLEDGE TALK/ARCADE -

Ja­panese startup Me­leap has been around for a while – it launched Hado, an aug­mented-re­al­ity game of six-player PVP fire­ball-fling­ing, back in 2015. Pow­er­ing its tech is a com­bi­na­tion of AR head­set and wrist-mounted mo­tion sen­sor, en­abling play­ers to act out the Ryu power fantasy in (al­most) real life. It’s a pop­u­lar in­stal­la­tion piece with its own tour­na­ment scene – but with Ja­pan’s ar­cade in­dus­try in­creas­ingly em­brac­ing vir­tual re­al­ity and its re­lated tech­nolo­gies, the firm is step­ping up a gear.

The lat­est fruit of that en­deav­our is Hado Shoot, a four­player game played on a huge dis­play pro­jected onto a wall by the AR head­set. Waves of cutesy mush­room peo­ple – a sort of non-threat­en­ing chibi take on the en­e­mies that mill about in Dark Souls’ Dark­root Gar­den – ap­pear and, if not dis­patched quickly, will walk out of the screen to­wards you. Fling­ing mul­ti­coloured pro­jec­tiles, play­ers com­pete to see who can dis­patch the high­est num­ber of fungi within a time limit. Fur­ther gen­tle com­pe­ti­tion comes from items that ap­pear dur­ing play – and, nat­u­rally, from the way play­ers can in­ter­fere with each other in the real world in or­der to im­pair a ri­val’s score in the vir­tual one.

While the need to free up a large sec­tion of empty wall may be off-putting for many ar­cade own­ers, the fact that the game runs on smart­phone hard­ware (it clips into the AR head­set) re­duces the in­vest­ment sig­nif­i­cantly. To date, it’s been largely found away from the ar­cade, at shop­ping malls, con­ven­tion cen­tres and even Tokyo’s Narita air­port. But that’s chang­ing, and the tech is also begin­ning to spread over­seas, with ap­pear­ances at re­cent VR con­fer­ences in the US.

Game HadoShoot Man­u­fac­turer Me­leap

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